The Bible talks a lot about worship and praise, and often we use those words interchangeably. But, in reality, they are not synonyms. Jim Altizer makes a good distinction in his book "The Making of a Worship Leader" when he says, "Worship is a response to the nature and being of God, while praise is a response to His works."
In worship, the believer reflects back to God, His worth and wonder as God has revealed Himself to the worshipper through his Word. Worship is a response to God and that response is an essential aspect of being a follower of Christ. There is something fundamental about acknowledging greatness together with others; it seems to be a built in part of what it means to be human. We will share with one another great news of positive events in our lives, a great song that lifts our spirits and we will acknowledge the presence of a great person who has achieved much. Therefore, it is not surprising that God has built worship (acknowledging His greatness) into the Christian experience. In corporate worship, we acknowledge the greatness of God together with brothers and sisters in the Lord. It is the fundamental building block of a lifetime walk with the Lord and lasting community with other Christians.
It is for these reasons that parents must care about involving older grade school children and teens in inter-generational worship and not simply allow them to only experience Sunday School as if it was worship. Our older children and teens need to see adults at worship and at prayer. They need to watch adults give to the Lord and learn from the Word to have an example set for how this will be their lifelong experience as a worshipper.
Our program design reflects these values. While it is obvious that younger children are not developmentally suited for our worship service, we encourage parents of older children to both send their children to the ten o’clock Sunday School hour and worship together with them at one of the other service opportunities. This means that we are encouraging parents of teens and older children to find and fellowship in a Sunday Bible Study class during the ten o’clock service time. If none of the current classes appeal to you, please contact Jim Eikenberry about starting a new class that would meet your needs.
Ultimately, parents have the responsibility to model for children the kind of adult Christ followers we wish them to become. I believe that this model best includes both aspects of church life, the cell group size Bible Study class where relationships are formed and the celebration of God in corporate worship. As they see us do both, they view an important part of what it means to be a “lifelong follower of Jesus” and that, after all, is our mission.
His and Yours,
Pastor Marc Maffucci